• Keep the bar OUT OF THE KITCHEN. Bar needs plenty of access for both guests and a bartender.
• Beer and wine need only one hour to ice down.
• Ice Buckets are impractical for more than 8-10 guests- use a clean, small cooler instead or have it on hand to refill the ice bucket.
• It’s nice to have a garbage can near the bar.
• Don’t forget cocktail napkins, lemons and limes.
• Have at least one pound of ice per person unless it’s hot outside then plan on two pounds per person.
• In hot weather, people drink lighter colored alcohols: white wine, beer, vodka.
• In cold weather, they drink more dark alcohol: red wine, bourbon, scotch.
• Need 2 to 3 glasses per guest depending on how long the party lasts.
• Serve as many do-ahead hors d’oeuvres as possible.
• Put out small plates (salad size), about one per person.
• Don’t focus on sweets. People don’t eat many when they are drinking alcohol.
• Keep buffet food on one or two tables when possible. Don’t spread it around as it confuses guests.
• Set the table ahead.
• Don’t forget salt and pepper shakers, butter plate and knife.
• Keep plates for each course stacked in the kitchen: salad, dinner and dessert plates.
• Water glasses always need to be out. People always ask for water. Have a pitcher of water available.
• Prep Decaffeinated Coffee before guests arrive so that all you have to do is hit the start button once the main course goes out.
• Have cream and sugar set ready to go.
• Have serving pieces ready to go – platters, bowls, etc. and corresponding serving utensils.
• Label them with post-it notes with the food that goes into them.
• Don’t forget to have a tray of iced glasses for water and a pitcher of water for refills.
• Make sure the dishwasher is empty and counters are clear before guests arrive.
• Clear countertops as much as possible.
• Empty the garbage before the party starts.
• Make a timeline of what needs to be heated/prepared so that you can focus on your guests.
• Include things like “heat hors d’oeuvres, heat entrée, rolls, water poured in glasses, start coffee.”
• Don’t start to heat hot hors d’oeuvres until the first guest arrives. Guests don’t usually feel comfortable eating until they’ve had a drink.
• Keep hot foods hot by putting them on heated serving platters or dinner plates. Tips for heating trays: put dishes in a clean dishwasher and run them through the rinse and heated drying cycle. A stack of dinner plates can be heated in the microwave as long as they don’t have gold or metal leaf on them. It takes about 4-5 minutes for a stack of 10 dinner plates.
• Cocktail Buffets – have about 5 to 6 total items of which 2 to 3 are meat/seafood.
• Pre dinner Appetizers – no more than two – one hot and one not
• Main Course – Entrée VOUS!
• Dessert – Keep it Simple – People don’t eat a lot of dessert.
• Keep a record of what foods you served to your guests. That way you don’t repeat yourself.
EASY CLEAN UP TIPS:
• Before you start doing the dishes, do the following:
• Clear all trash from tables and counters.
• Put away all leftover foods.
• Put all dirty silverware and cooking utensils into on big pot of soapy hot water.
• Scrape and stack all plates.
• Keep all glassware together in one spot to reduce breakage.
• Have lots of cloth dish towels on hand.